Book Review: Carry On

Carry On
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genres: Fantasy, YA, Romance, LGBT
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Book Depository

This Review Contains no spoilers.

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

As I was reading Carry On my friend asked for a book recommendation and I immediately was like ‘read Fangirl and Carry On so we can talk about it!’ Then she asked what it was and my reaction was ‘how do I explain this?’ My (best) attempt:

Fangirl is about a modern girl who writes fanfiction of Harry Potter, but because of copyright, Rainbow Rowell couldn’t call it Harry Potter, so she called it ‘Simon Snow’ instead and had Cath (the MC) writing a fic of the last book of the series, before it came out (like all the fics that were published before HP: 7). Carry On is that fanfic.

That was my best attempt. I hope I nailed it.

I really liked Carry On, even though its been a while since I’ve read Fangirl, and I’ve actually not read anything else by Rainbow Rowell because realistic fiction isn’t actually my cup of tea.

My school’s book club read Fangirl almost two years ago and I feel in love, but I remember thinking, ‘I want to read more about this Simon Snow guy, he doesn’t sound half bad.’ And Harry Potter is over and I’m sad and I’ll read anything that makes me feel better and feel like I’m back at Hogwarts again. Carry On just about managed that.

The story certainly captured me, you can tell by the reading progress down below that I read it in two days, and most of it was read in one day. It’s hilariously funny, charming, magical, romantic. There’s something in it for everyone.

I recommend Carry On for everyone. I think its meant for Fangirl fans, but there’s no reason to read Fangirl before Carry On. If anything reading Fangirl gives away important aspects of the story.

Characters

Simon Snow

Clearly the Harry Potter character.

I don’t usually go for the underdog character, but I really liked this one. Maybe because he’s not quite as hopeless as everyone else, or maybe just because he’s funny and gay. That’s definately new.

He was very much blinded by his affection for the Mage, which is an interesting perspective. Its not everyday that the hero’s mentor is as unusual as this one.

Baz

I think this is Draco Malfoy?

I have a friend who’s name is Basil, and at one point while I was reading I seriously considered texting him and saying ‘I’m reading about a gay vampire named after you’ just to see what he would say. I didn’t, but I still might one of these days.

I liked Baz, he was fun and I felt bad for it. It would be interesting to see how the ‘original’ author of Simon Snow portrayed him (in Cath’s world in Fangirl (more notes on this in the Agatha section)).

Penny

Basically Hermione and still amazing. Words cannot describe Penny.

Ebb

Basically Hagrid. But with less dragons and more goats. More about her down in the spoilers section.

Agatha

I’m not sure who her Harry Potter counterpart is.

This is one of those instances where I am reminded that Carry On is (in Cath’s world and the world of Fangirl), fanfiction. What would Agatha have been like in the ‘original’ Simon Snow books? It’s hinted in Fangirl that Cath portrays her in a negative light to push the Simon and Baz ship. This is a sad fact about the fandom, sometimes the female love interest is villainized in order to push a non-canon ship (straight or gay, but more often gay).

I did, however, like her notes about ‘going through the motions’ and dating Simon (and expecting to grieve for him) because that’s what people expected.

Writing Tips

  • Be something people can identify with. People loved Fangirl because that was us, the internet generation. Cath became a well-loved character because we saw ourselves in her in a way we never had before. She was a protagonist who understood the whims of the internet and the fandom.
  • Rock the boat. Simon and Baz are two unashamedly gay characters in a world that is just beginning to accept that, and they rock.
  • Be timeless. Just like Harry Potter, at its heart Carry On is about growing up and making friends and being afraid of growing up.
  • Write what you love. Rainbow Rowell wrote Carry On after falling in love with the excerpts in Fangirl, and she wrote Fangirl because it appealed to her. Write the stories that you want to read.

Reading Progress and Updates

  • 02/11
    • marked as: to-read
  • 02/18
    • marked as: currently-reading
    • page 64 12.0%
      • “All the Magickal Things That are Actually True, and All the Ones That are Bollocks, Just Like You Thought” is the best textbook idea ever.
  • 02/19
    • page 143 27.0%
      • “You have to pretend that you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise you can’t carry on at all.”
    • page 161 30.0%
      • “Front seat is for people who haven’t been kidnapped by fucking numpties.” I like Aunt Fiona, she’s funny.
    • page 168 32.0%
      • “Gareth has a belt buckle. (Its really inconvenient – he has to thrust his pelvis forward whenever he wants to cast a spell. He seems to think its cheeky, but no one else does.)”
    • page 221 42.0%
      • Baz is a dramatic little jerk.
    • page 242 46.0%
      • Yelling “we are not a we” kind of makes you one.
    • page 245 46.0%
      • “Rome wasn’t built on mutual admiration.”
    • page 249 47.0%
      • “Put a sandwich in it Bunce.”
    • page 250 47.0%
      • “You don’t slay a dragon unless you’re trying to open a doorway to hell.”
    • page 274 52.0%
      • “People who tell you that slamming and bashing into things won’t make you feel better haven’t slammed and bashed enough.”
    • page 296 56.0%
      • They both know they’re gay, but they don’t know how gay they are. This is great.
    • page 504 96.0%
      • “Dancing’s well gay. Even when it isn’t two blokes.” That’s food for thought.
    • marked as: read

Spoilers

I feel like I should be torn up about what happened to Ebb, but oddly enough I’m not. She’s certainly set up as a Hagrid-esque character, and has a close relationship with Simon, but we didn’t see much of that. Even he didn’t seem too torn up by her death. I did like her though, but her death didn’t really get to me.

I loved the way the Mage was portrayed, almost like Dumbledore in the sense that he would do anything to do what he sees as the ‘right’ thing. Dumbledore if he had never grown out of his friendship with Grindelwald.

I wish there had been a bit more about Baz’s mother. She certainly did kill herself – and Baz thinks it was horror about being a vampire – but I thought it was more because she wanted to take as many vampires with her as she could. What did you think?

Oh, and if you loved Carry On, check out the new Rainbow Rowell section in my Redbubble shop.

 

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Carry On

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